Bathrooms are a relatively recent development. The Romans developed sanitation, but they still washed and did their business in public. The idea of a bathroom would have baffled the Ancient Egyptians and even early Victorians. Now the bathroom is an essential part of the house, in fact, most have more than one. So what are the major developments to the ‘privy’ that take us to the present day?
The Victorian Style Bathroom
Victorian-style bathrooms are highly fashionable, but the reality is they didn’t exist. Until the late 19th century, toilets were outside and shared between everyone on the street, while people bathed in tin baths filled with water fetched from a pump at the end of the road. It wasn’t until indoor plumbing that toilets entered the house. Even then, it remained a rarity. Basins would be found in the bedroom.
Turn of the Century
The early 20th century was when bathrooms took off and became a domestic norm. Indoor plumbing was common at this stage, and even the working-class got in on the act. The bathroom could now be found upstairs, and included a large bath and a basin. In short, the basic layout remains the same to this day.
The 50’s Bathroom
After the war, with the rise of consumerism, the bathroom became a commodity like everything else. Functionality was still key, and the general features of the bathroom had barely changed, but there were differences. Now style and colour played an important role. Decorating or accessorising your bathroom was common practice. Austere white tiles and mahogany seats were replaced with carpet patterns and green or pink suites. The shower, initially a military innovation, became more common.
Modern Day Bathroom
Today we look back on former trends (in the case of the Victorians, we even invent them!) and search for additional features for a number of reasons. We want our bathrooms to function properly, but they must also look good. We endow bathrooms with ‘personality’. More bathrooms in the house results in smaller spaces. Because of this, utilizing space is a common modus operandi. The bathroom has never been more sophisticated, as we figure out ever more ingenious ways of making room, while maintaining an aesthetic approach. IKEA and Japanese innovation have provided some the most noticeable changes to the bathroom in recent decades.
Photos by EKCO